When I See the Crescent in the American Sky

— Majda Gama

Ya ‘aini (my eyes)
always stung by the beauty
of our planet rotating on its axis,
by the geometry of what my people wrote:
when they wrote at all words were (in fact) embroidery;
there’s no permanence in a story that can’t be told
by mouth: stories begin in the throat behind teeth
& words can be swallowed. Words can be dangerous.
                    Crescent. Helal. Barely seen moon
over the sunset vigil for Nabra Hassanen.
There’s an understanding that the earth will turn,
That a month of fasting will give way to feast & that food
Will become boring again. Why must the pin oak
tree provide solace tonight & not the palm?
Why must the moon rise in the West
when it signifies the East? Isn’t this question
its own mystery requiring mystery letters to answer it.
                    Yes, my eyes. In Virginia they see
another night peopled with stars that have Arabic names.
By a lake a woman in niqab is patient, fanning herself
with the ends of the scarf veiling her face. Girls in hijab
& sneakers pass around fliers with Nabra’s face,
seeking ‘umra donations so her family can circumnavigate
the ka’aba for her. What of that moon over that sky?
I only want for her to still walk a Virginia street in safe moonlight
with friends, belly full of French fries, feet still growing,
starting her own rotation around the sun.

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